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The night air was cold against her face as Helena remained standing at the end of the driveway, arms wrapped tight around her waist as she struggled to breathe. She could see nothing but the tears that had clouded Myka's normally bright green eyes when they had said goodbye. Could hear nothing but the way Myka's voice hitched when she asked if this was goodbye.
As if she could ever say goodbye to her.
She had tried, of course, simply because she had meant what she told Myka earlier when they were talking in the kitchen HG Wells and the Warehouse are a disastrous combination. But Helena and Myka god, that relationship was everything that is good and pure and right in the world.
And she had just broken her heart. The tears in Myka's eyes were proof enough of that.
"Bloody hell," she muttered, shaking her head as she lifted her face to the sky, her eyes searching the heavens for the strength she knew she would need to do what she needed to do. Nate would rebound from her leaving, in fact, she had a feeling he wouldn't fight her on it too much at all. Adelaide was his life, and rightfully so, and she had put her in danger.
It would never happen again.
She bit her lip and ran a shaky hand through her hair as she turned to look at the house she had selfishly called home for the last six months. She could see Nate and Adelaide through the window, the young girl who reminded her so much of her Christina acting out a fight sequence, and she shook her head sadly as she started back up the path for what she knew would be the last time.
This was not her life.
Her life was with Myka, and she had been a fool for ever thinking otherwise.
The doorknob was cool beneath her hand as she hovered at the threshold, steeling herself with the courage she would need to face the tears she knew that she would see in Adelaide's eyes. She really did love that little girl.
She just loved Myka more.
Nate's eyes landed on hers the moment she entered the house and she smiled sadly at him and nodded, answering the question she could see in his eyes. She cleared her throat softly and smiled apologetically at Adelaide. "Darling, I need to speak with your father for a moment, if you wouldn't mind."
Nate nodded. "Yeah. Um, PJs for you, little miss, and then you can watch a show in the den if you want."
The flash of uncertainty in Adelaide's eyes did not escape Helena's attention and she bit her lip as she forced herself to hold the little girl's gaze. She deserved the pain that came from knowingly breaking that sweet child's heart. She did not sit as Adelaide skipped out of the room, her gi bouncing lightly with the movement, instead choosing to remain standing as she did what must be done.
Nate cleared his throat softly. "So Myka and Pete are gone?"
"Yes," Helena said, nodding slowly. She took a deep breath. "Myka is gone." She wrapped her arms around her waist once more, her voice hitching at the memory of the tears in the agent's eyes only moments before. "I apologize for bringing such danger into yours and Adelaide's lives. It was selfish and reckless of me, and I cannot properly express exactly how sorry I am for what I have done."
"You didn't "
Helena shook her head sadly. "I did. And it will happen again," she told him assuredly. "Because I am an adventurer. I'm not a forensic scientist. I I don't belong here. I belong "
"With Myka," Nate said softly, understanding clear in his eyes. He smiled at the bewildered look she gave him and shrugged. "I saw the way you two looked at each other. It was like no one else in the world existed. I had hoped that you might look at me like that someday, but after meeting her I understand."
"Thank you," Helena whispered.
"Will you be leaving tonight?"
Helena nodded. "I think that's best, yes. I'll just say goodbye to Adelaide and pack a bag. I'll send a courier by in a few days to box up my things and ship them to where I'll be staying."
He stood from the couch, smoothing his palms over his thighs, and nodded. "Okay."
Helena sank into his embrace and her throat tightened with an emotion that wasn't quite love. Affection, yes, but it wasn't the same as when she had lightly embraced Myka a few moments before, and she knew that she had made the right decision.
As if there was ever a decision to be made. Her returning to Myka was an inevitability, and she had known it the minute she had called her and asked her to come help with the artifact.
"I'll be just a few minutes," she murmured, ducking her head and tucking her hair behind her ears as she started for Adelaide's bedroom. She could hear the little girl "hi-yah!"-ing inside, and she bit her lip. This was the goodbye that was going to hurt the most.
"Come in!" Adelaide yelled at the sound of Helena's timid knock on the door, and the little girl beamed at her hero when the door opened. "Helena!"
"Adelaide," Helena murmured, kneeling in front of the girl. "I'm sorry, darling, but I need to leave." Adelaide's bright smile dimmed and Helena sighed as she dared reach out to run a gentle finger down the child's jaw. She would miss her so, so much. But she missed Myka more.
"What do you mean?" Adelaide asked softly.
Partial truths were always preferable to outright lies, and Helena took a deep breath. "You were right, when you first met Myka. She and I did have great adventures together. We were not college roommates, we worked together for the government. I'm not a forensic scientist."
"So why were you pretending to be one?"
Helena sighed. "Because I needed to, for reasons I'll never be able to properly explain or which you'll be able to understand, I needed to do it." Namely, that she was terrified of the happiness that awaited her in South Dakota once she had returned the astrolabe. She hadn't been truly happy in so many years, that the thought of returning to Univille had been utterly crippling. And so, she had run away. Ran to a small town where she could try and get her head on straight. It had been a doomed experiment from its outset, but she had managed to realize that she could be happy and that it did not detract from Christina's memory at all. That she could love and not betray her long-deceased daughter. That she deserved to be happy. She would just never be truly happy without Myka by her side. "And it's time for me to go back, now, I'm afraid."
"To Myka?" Adelaide asked wisely.
Helena nodded. "Yes, darling. To Myka," she confirmed, swallowing thickly and finding herself in awe of the young girl's composure. Not a tear was to be seen in her eyes.
"I knew you wouldn't be here forever," Adelaide said softly, falling into Helena and wrapping her arms around the Englishwoman's neck. "I don't know how I knew, but I just did. But thank you for making my dad happy."
"Thank you," Helena whispered, her voice cracking on the simple endearment. "I am so sorry."
Adelaide pulled away slowly and nodded wisely, her expression markedly older than her years. Helena had always known there was something inherently special about the girl. "It's okay. I forgive you."
Helena's heart clenched at the child's forgiveness. She drew a deep breath and smiled. "Thank you."
She did her best to actually walk, and not run, down the hall to the master bedroom, where she pulled a small black duffle from the corner of the closet. She packed hurriedly, shoving two days worth of clothes into the bag and zipping it shut with enough force that the sound of the teeth latching together echoed through the room. Nate was still standing in the living room when she made her way to the door to the garage where her car was parked neatly beside his, and she smiled sadly at him, knowing that any words she offered would be nothing more than platitudes that did little to explain anything. She couldn't explain to him who she really was or what she did, and she had been a fool to think she could ever live a lie like this.
The garage door clattering open sounded like freedom, and a small, hopeful smile tweaked her lips as she backed slowly down the drive. Her headlights sliced through the night as she raced for the airport, desperate to catch Myka and Pete before the left for South Dakota, praying that she was not too late to repair the damage she had unintentionally caused.
Her footsteps echoed hollowly in the parking structure as she ran flat-out for the terminal, and she almost felt bad for the poor woman working the Delta desk whom she had literally thrown her credit card at and demanded a seat on the next flight to South Dakota. Wide eyed, the woman quickly pulled up the airline's outgoing flights and informed Helena that there was a flight boarding in twenty minutes bound for Rapid City with a changeover in Minneapolis.
Helena nodded, her heart soaring into her throat. "That'll be perfect," she assured her, looking pointedly at the monitor, silently urging the woman to just get on with securing her seat on the flight already.
It thankfully took her only a few minutes to clear security, and then she was off, sprinting through the small concourse like the hounds of hell were chasing after her. She knew she was the recipient of more than a few curious glances as she ran, but she paid them no mind. Let them think she was a madwoman. Let them wonder why she was behaving so strangely.
She needed to catch Myka.
And then she saw her, sitting forlornly in a chair in front of the windows that overlooked the tarmac, forearms resting on her knees with her hands folded together, head bent down and her hair falling like a curtain around her face, hiding the anguish Helena was sure was evident in her eyes. She slowed to a walk as she approached, and was relieved when she saw Pete smile proudly at her, everything in his demeanor telling her that he was glad she was there.
She just prayed that Myka was equally happy to see her.
"I'm gonna go grab a Snickers for the plane," Pete said, jumping to his feet as Helena approached. He gave the Englishwoman's arm an affectionate squeeze as he disappeared, giving the women the time alone that they hadn't had since he and Myka had arrived.
Helena's heart was racing as she stood in front of Myka, who hadn't even bothered to look up at Pete's departure. She had done so many things wrong in her life, so many things, and she prayed that this one she would be able to undo. She cleared her throat softly, nervously, as she tucked her hair behind her ears and whispered, "Myka."
Myka's stomach clenched and she shook her head. No. She squeezed her eyes shut tighter, trying to force the haunting lilt of Helena's voice from her mind. There was no way Helena would be here. She had to be imagining things. The Warehouse had finally driven her around the bend, she was sure of it. She wrapped her arms around her waist, holding herself together as she fell forward, her body rocking slowly back and forth as she tried to control herself. She would allow herself to let go and cry for all that she had lost when she was alone in her room at the Bed and Breakfast, but not here. Not now. Because once she finally allowed the tears to fall, she knew that she would be powerless to stop them.
The sight of Myka so broken ripped Helena's heart from her chest, and she swallowed thickly as she knelt before her. "My darling Myka," she murmured, daring to reach out and place a light hand on the younger woman's shoulder. "Please look at me."
"You're not real," Myka whispered, rocking harder. "You're not real."
"I assure you darling, I am," Helena replied gently. "Please look at me, Myka." Seeing Myka in so much pain made her eyes sting with tears and she did not bother to try and hold them back as she blinked and set them cascading slowly down her cheeks. She smiled a broken, watery smile when Myka finally looked up at her, and she licked her lips as she gently cradled the agent's jaw in her palm. "Hello, darling."
It was too much, seeing Helena looking at her with so much love and concern, and the tears Myka had been holding back so valiantly began to fall as she shook her head. "Helena?"
Helena nodded. "Yes."
"What? Why? I mean why are you here?"
"For you, darling," Helena whispered.
Myka shook her head, not allowing herself to believe for a moment the truth that was evident in Helena's eyes. "What about Nate? And Adelaide?" she asked, knowing that Helena was far more attached to the girl than her father.
"They both understood that I needed to go," Helena answered with a small shrug. "I've missed you so much."
"I've missed you too," Myka whispered before she could stop herself. She wanted to just fall into Helena's arms and kiss her, softly, tenderly, with all of the love and affection she felt for her, but she couldn't. Not yet. Not when there was so much left to say that she hadn't had time to say before now. "But, you could have come back after you returned the astrolabe and you didn't. You left me," she pointed out, her voice cracking on the word 'me'. "Why, Helena? Why?"
Helena licked her lips and sighed. "I wasn't ready to be happy," she answered truthfully, shaking her head sadly as she stared imploringly into Myka's watery green eyes. "I wasn't ready, darling."
"And now?" Myka whispered.
"If you're still willing to have me," Helena started softly, her voice tinged with hope and fear, "I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to try again. To do it right, this time. I am not healed, nor do I believe I ever truly will be, but I am better. I am ready to offer myself to you, and be the woman I know you deserve." She stared beseechingly into Myka's eyes, her vision blurred by her tears that continued to fall. "I love you more than I have ever loved anyone in over 147 years, Myka Bering. I need you."
Myka bit her lip as she held Helena's gaze. She believed her. And yet
"Oh, for god's sake, Mykes, kiss the girl, already!" Pete hollered.
Helena laughed softly and tilted her head imploringly at Myka. "Myka?"
Myka lifted a shaking hand to gently trace the curve of Helena's lower lip, reveling in its softness and the feeling of the Englishwoman's breath cascading around her finger. Helena was here. This was real. She wasn't imagining things. She sighed, finally admitting to herself that there really was no decision to be made. Like falling in love with Helena, this too, was inevitable.
Neither woman heard Pete's triumphant whoop and wolf whistle as the fell into each other, eyes fluttering closed as their bodies moved with a familiarity that bespoke their past together. The kiss was slow, sweet, achingly tender, and ferociously gentle. It was a kiss that said "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you". A kiss that made stomachs swoop and flutter, and hearts skip beats. It was a kiss that promised everything. Faithfulness. Love. Forever.
"My darling Myka," Helena murmured, the words falling with the weight of a butterfly's wings and the force of a tsunami against Myka's lips. "I love you."
Myka smiled and reached up to tangle her hands in Helena's hair, drawing the Englishwoman back into her and not caring that Pete and who knew else was watching them. She had dreamt of this moment since Helena had last disappeared, and she was not ready for it to end yet. "I love you too," she whispered, brushing the lightest of kisses across Helena's lips. "I love you too."
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